Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Lost" Tramp Artwork

It's always fun to come across a piece of old school art you've never seen before, especially when it's by an artist like Dave Trampier. Not long ago, I was given a collection of old issues of Polyhedron, whose issue #5 (April 1982) includes the following illustration:
Has anyone else ever seen this before? Obviously, it's an homage/parody of Dave Sutherland's famous cover to module B1, In Search of the Unknown, but I have to wonder about why it was drawn and when. One of the things I find most interesting about this piece is how much the three figures remind me of some of the characters from the Wormy strips. Of course, it's also a reminder of just how sad it is that Tramp left the industry -- and art -- for good.

15 comments:

  1. for some reason, the halfling torch bearer reminds me of Crumb's "Keep on Truckin'" guy.

    Keep on Delving? LOL

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  2. This was posted at dragonsfoot recently:

    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=51478

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  3. One of the things I love about those Trampier drawings are the combinations of white and black, detail and broad treatment, whimsy and sometimes menace. And they all have that underground comix thing going on that seems to have left most fantasy artwork for the D&D game since he left. Trampier, Otus and Wham are my favorite D&D illustrators.

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  4. This was posted at dragonsfoot recently

    That's what I get for not visiting Dragonsfoot much. Thanks for the heads-up!

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  5. Another note: you say that this is "an homage/parody of Dave Sutherland's famous cover to module B1." It's certainly an homage/parody of that cover, but Sutherland wasn't the only artist involved in the B1 cover art. Look at the signature: it's "DIS & DAT," which I take to be a humorous rendering of "Dave Sutherland and David A. Trampier." So Tramp is parodying himself here.

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  6. John,

    You know, I don't think I ever noticed that before. Now that you've pointed it out, it makes sense that some of the elements of the Tramp illo -- particularly the lefthand side -- look identical to those in the DCS version. If the piece is actually a collaboration between the two artists, then it all makes much more sense.

    Thanks for pointing this out!

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  7. Having taken a better look at the picture James posted, I'm now wondering again about something I've wondered about before. I had always assumed that the B1 cover was Sutherland finishing Trampier's rough work: the figures are clearly in Sutherland's style, but the big mushroom is clearly in Trampier's, though not as carefully finished as Trampier's work often is. Now, the mushrooms in the picture posted here are exactly the same in dimensions, grouping, etc. as the ones on the B1 cover. Is this picture Trampier's completion of the same rough work that Sutherland completed for B1? Or even, just possibly, is this picture the original of the B1 cover? That is, did Sutherland alter a copy of this picture by replacing the figures and drawing over the (pretty minimal) details of the mushrooms? Admittedly, this latter suggestion is unlikely; the only reason I offer it is that the figures in the Trampier picture are, as Francisca said, vaguely Crumbesque, and the only other place I've seen Trampier echo Crumb is in very early Wormy strips, which would be about contemporary with the publication of B1.

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  8. I'd heard this was the original unfinished cover art, and that the Sutherland version came later. But I can't even remember where I read that.

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  9. Is this picture Trampier's completion of the same rough work that Sutherland completed for B1? Or even, just possibly, is this picture the original of the B1 cover? That is, did Sutherland alter a copy of this picture by replacing the figures and drawing over the (pretty minimal) details of the mushrooms? Admittedly, this latter suggestion is unlikely; the only reason I offer it is that the figures in the Trampier picture are, as Francisca said, vaguely Crumbesque, and the only other place I've seen Trampier echo Crumb is in very early Wormy strips, which would be about contemporary with the publication of B1.

    The plot thickens! Lots of interesting questions here. Too bad neither Tramp nor DCS is available to answer them.

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  10. I'd heard this was the original unfinished cover art, and that the Sutherland version came later.

    What an alternate universe it would have been had this been completed and used as the actual cover!

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  11. I remember this from Polyhedron. I was a member of rpga(?) before the first issue, and kept my membership going up through issue.. um.. 16 maybe? I haven't thought about those in a long time. They're somewhere at my mom's house, and I know she hasn't pitched them (her own mom tossed her old collection of Wonder Woman from the 50s, so she understands.) Hopefully they haven't gotten water damaged..

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  12. I must admit, at first glance I just instantly assumed this was some early draft for the B1 cover. The mushrooms are just totally identical.

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  13. I've been going through and reviewing the old D&D modules on rpggeek, and I've been struck by how good Tramps art is, and how inconsistent DCS's is. DCS has a remarkable imagination, but he doesn't have the technical skill to follow through with it all of the time.

    The only DAT work I've come across that really struck me as being poor is the original cover to The Village of Hommlet, and it's a problem with composition rather than the drawings.

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  14. My impression is that DAT did the original art, perhaps someone didn't like the cartoony characters, so DCS traced DAT's background and replaced the characters. If that is so, it would explain why DCS signed it DIS & DAT (since DCS traced DAT's work).

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  15. It's probably much older than the Polyhedron issue - Frank Mentzer had access to old TSR file art when laying out the early Polys. Frank talks about it here.

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